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Think You Can’t Go Back for Your Degree? AIU Alumni Share 8 Reasons Why You Can Do It

Image: Yes, you can go back and earn your degree.

You have no shortage of reasons why it just isn’t the right time to pursue your degree. But if you’re already thinking about it (after all, you are reading this article), why put it off?

“Oh, but I can’t.”

Oh, but you can.

AIU alumni have been in your shoes. They know all the obstacles that seem to be in your way. (They’ve faced the same ones themselves.) Below, they address the most common challenges – and how they overcame them to earn a degree and find the success they were looking for.

1. I’ll do it later; I don’t have time right now. It’s true, there never seems to be enough time amid work, family and other obligations. Our alumni find ways to get creative and make time. Consider Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) 2012 graduate Paul Wilson, who completed his degree while on active duty in the Air Force. “It was six months straight with no days off. Just work and school, but I was seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.” Paul completed his schoolwork on one of four computers available to 250 people. Today, he is the Chief Recruiting Officer for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. AIU alumna Patti Kowalski earned her Associate of Arts in Business Administration (AABA) in 2010 and BBA in 2012 as a single mom with two teenaged sons. Now she’s pursuing her Master of Business Administration (MBA). “No matter how hectic your life can be, there is always time for education,” she says. “It can only improve your situation.”

2. I’d miss classes. My schedule is too crazy. Fortunately, thanks to the convenience of online education, you really can take your schoolwork wherever you go. Alumna Erica Kirkwood (AABA 2011, BBA 2013) tried the traditional college route but lost her car due to an accident. “I decided to go online because nothing could disturb my education. I only needed a computer. No distractions, no excuses.” Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice (BSCJ) 2013 graduate Cory Logan said, “My schedule didn’t provide me with the opportunity to travel to a traditional university. I was looking for a school where I could tailor my education around my life and family, and that is exactly what AIU offered.” Today, Erica works as an admissions advisor for a university, while Cory works in his field as a hosting analyst.

3. I’m too old to go back school. Going back to school after a long absence can be daunting—but it is more than doable. “I won’t kid anybody; I was very afraid. I’d been out of school 35 years,” said Dennis Renfrew (BBA 2013). AABA 2010 and BBA 2012 graduate Donna Prentice, who was asked to get a degree for her job, also knows this challenge firsthand. “I thought how impossible it would be. Here I am a 50-year-old woman who would most certainly have forgotten a lot of things since my high school graduation in 1976.” But she earned her associate degree with honors. Erica Kirkwood echoed her sentiments: “I didn’t go to college right away. I didn’t go the traditional route. It’s not unattainable. You can change your life.”

4. I wasn’t a good student in high school. Don’t worry, you’re not alone! Alumnus Paul Wilson admits that he didn’t really apply himself in high school. “My senior year I got senioritis, dropped out and got my GED.” While working in a retail store, however, he decided, “I don’t want this to be the rest of my life.” BBA 2005 and MBA 2006 graduate David Allan Bassham, Executive Director of Facilities and School Services for a Texas school district, said going back to school actually improved his learning ability. “Education has taught me how to think. I learned how to be a good student and I became more accepting of other people's opinions.” Even Crystal Hogue, student speaker at AIU Online’s 2013 Commencement, admitted that her performance in high school made her doubt her ability to earn her degree. After realizing the value of higher education, though, she went back to school and earned not just her BBA but her MBA at AIU as well.

5. I’m going through personal struggles; it’s not a good time. Going through hard times is tough, but sometimes something new is just what you need. Alumna Donna Prentice began her AABA program shortly after the loss of a loved one. “I needed to keep myself busy. I needed this distraction in my life now more than ever.” Not only that, but she completed her BBA despite having a heart attack and being hospitalized during her courses. Graduate Autumn Albright (AABA 2010, BBA 2011, and MBA 2012) stuck with her MBA program even while her husband was ill in the hospital. She didn’t want to leave him, so she brought her work and did it there.

6. It’ll be too hard. “Don’t focus on ‘It’s too hard, I can’t do this.’ Do it for yourself. Determine what you want out of life and push forward,” says Patti Kowalski. Believe in yourself and the institution, advises BBA 2012 graduate Justan Campbell: “Students must trust themselves, trust their professors, and trust the text provided to them.” As alumna Donna Prentice notes, “If you don’t push yourself beyond your boundaries, you’ll never know your full capacity.”

7. A degree’s not worth the effort. Plenty of alumni likely would disagree. Donna Prentice was a single site manager before earning her degrees at AIU. Now, she is a Senior HR Manager overseeing all five divisions. MBA 2006 Graduate Ty Manns says his degree improved his finances. “I took my newly earned MBA to the market, earned my first VP job and doubled my salary!” National data also make a strong argument in favor of earning a degree. According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, workers who graduate with a bachelor’s degree earn 63% more than those with a high school diploma alone.

8. I can’t afford it. This one is challenging, because it’s hard to argue with the numbers in your checking account. However, helping students figure out how to finance their education and invest in their future is why the student financial aid options exist. And, as noted in the stories and statistics above, a degree can help increase your earnings in the long run.

Whatever your obstacles or challenges, take a moment to remember that you are in control of your future and take inspiration from this statement from alumna Robbine Alexander (BBA 2010, MBA 2013): “Right before I started at AIU, I realized that I had the horrible character trait of not finishing things for whatever reason. Now I’ve learned to never quit something that promises a reward at the end and to learn which battles are worth fighting for - and finishing my education was a fight that I agreed to contend for.”

Thinking about returning to school but don’t want to start from scratch?
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